Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wisconsin: Returns on a Pardoned Felon

Jim Sting, at the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinal has written an excellent piece entitled, "Pardoning Felons Returns Dividends." The piece recounts a day in 1996 when Sting was reporting on the State's "rarely covered" pardon board. That is when he heard the "remarkable story" of one Harold E. Stafford, who is now a lawyer practicing in Wisconsin.

The 35-year old Stafford appeared before the board in 1996 because he needed a pardon in order to be admitted to the bar. Although he was the son of a judge, Stafford had starting doing drugs in the 7th grade and dropped out of college a couple of times. He then moved on to California cocaine trafficking. But his family got him into drug treatment and he went back to college and became a deacon of a church!

Then, Sting writes:
But his past caught up with him just before he graduated from Stout. Two FBI agents came to the door and questioned Stafford about his drug dealing five years earlier. He was prosecuted but he cooperated fully. The case was transferred from the feds to circuit court in Wisconsin. Stafford got probation, a fine and community service, but prison time was hung over his head if he messed up. But most damaging was the felony conviction. That's what brought Stafford to the state Capitol that Saturday morning in 1996.
Stafford had learned just before his appearance that he had a cancerous brain tumor.  He was having problems with vision and speech as he told the board, "I really worked hard to change my life and become an upright person." Gov. Tommy Thompson granted the pardon.

Today, he practices law with particular focus on those who are "less fortunate than most" and "providing legal services to those folks who can't afford an expensive lawyer." As he puts it, "I prefer to believe that the investment society has put into me is paying dividends to this day." See full editorial here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

President Obama needs to read this !!

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